Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nine to Five

I read a ton of blogs, most of them of the Mommy-Blog variety. And most of them of the Stay-At-Home-Mom variety. So I have heard the cries and the pleas and the intelligent discussions about why staying at home is a real job, a thankless job, a job that is taken for granted and pays zero. I am honestly, truly, hand-on-my-heart saying "I hear you" and I don't judge anyone for anything they choose to do with their time, especially when it comes to children.

And while I don't want to play the "who has it worse" game, I have to vent for a bit.

I'm a working mom. All throughout my pregnancy, I had every intention of going back to work after having my daughter, and I did so, just as planned. But I never imagined that I would feel so torn about it, not right away, but 12, 18, 21 months down the road. Being a working mom is hard. Not the same kind of hard as stay-at-home parenthood, but the kind of hard that is like this:
 - You sometimes have to wake your sleeping child to get ready in the morning. She can't just wake up on her own time, she has to wake up NOW because the clock is ticking and I've got to get to work.
 - Sometimes she'll ask to have her bottle on the couch, but you don't have time for that, and multi-task by giving her a bottle while you change her morning diaper and put on her clothes for the day.
 - You'd like to slowly take her to daycare, linger around for a few minutes to get her acclimated and settled, but the longer you spend at drop-off, the later you get to work, and the later you leave to pick her up. You're just buying time from the evening if you dawdle in the morning.
 - When you finally leave work at 5:00 p.m. and think to yourself "Ugh... what a long day", you realize that your kid was at a daycare facility with other people who are not YOU all day, and that she doesn't even spend the majority of her time with you, but with other people.
 - THEN, when you finally get home at 5:30, it's time to make dinner - and if you have mom-guilt like I do, you'll want to make something from scratch (avoiding processed foods is a big mom-guilt thing for me), but sometimes you'll just give in and let her eat sugar or whatever her vice may be, just to make her happy.
 - Then it's time for a bath, an evening bottle, a few books, and that's a wrap folks.

You basically get about 20-30 minutes of free time with your kid a day.

No, nothing about my day is physically draining, I'm not running around all day after little people, constantly changing diapers, feeding, teaching, interacting... all of which I imagine are very draining. But on the flip side, I spend 30 minutes of quality time with my daughter a day. THAT is hard for me to swallow.

So I guess I meant to write this as a "we all have it hard, ladies" post, but I think it just ended up being a raging mama-guilt, now-I-have-a-lump-in-my-throat, I-need-to-go-have-a-cry post.

The hardest part is that there is no right answer. Stay at home parenthood is awesome in that YOU and you alone get to raise your child. But it can lead to (I'm totally guessing what would happen in MY situation) boredom, loneliness, and loss of income. The last one is a tricky one, because I don't want money to be the only reason I'm not a SAHM. But the reality is that employment is scarce, money doesn't grow on trees, and providing for a family isn't cheap. Working parenthood is also awesome in some regards because I am contributing to my family financially, maintaining some sense of professional self, and doing things I enjoy and that keep me learning and contributing.

So there isn't really a great way to end this post. I didn't have any magical lightbulb moments while writing this, although I do feel a little better getting it off my chest.

So I'll end this with a picture of Claire vising with Santa, who is actually a co-worker who plays the part of the jolly old guy each year, so us working parents can avoid the whole mall scene. (ONE perk of being a working parent...? That's a stretch.) Ho ho ho!